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Making it in the Majors: Kimberly Ng, AB'90

As a child, Kimberly J. Ng, AB'90, spent hours playing baseball. "I have always loved the game," she says. "No one needed to teach me to like it, it was just natural to me." Armed with an MVP award from the U of C softball team and a diploma in public-policy studies, Ng has transformed her childhood love for the swing of a bat into the core of her professional life, joining the New York Yankees in March as assistant general manager.

She joined the Chicago White Sox right after graduation, as a special projects analyst in arbitrations and case contracts, before being promoted to assistant director of baseball operations. Last year, Ng went to the American League Office as its director of waivers and records, establishing herself as an expert on major-league rules.

As the Yankees' assistant general manager-the No. 4 position in the club's hierarchy after owner George Steinbrenner-Ng heads the team's operations staff. The staff's job, she says, "is to make the team better all the time and anticipate the best we can where the Yankees will be, depending on the market. This includes composing a good team, deciding on trades, and handling contractual negotiations."

Ng typically begins at 9 a.m., reviewing players' performances and searching the Waiver Wire for players who've caught the eye of Yankees recruiters. She then reads press reports on the team's performance and administrative moves. Often, she says, the press provides good ideas about the industry and the Yankees' place in it.

Ng and the operations staff also work closely with the coaches, research potential trades, reschedule games, and negotiate contracts. "When I help in negotiations," she explains, "I research where to spend the Yankees' future money by discussing with the general manager where a particular player really belongs-whether or not he should join the Yankees-and working on different pay structures for the players."

Ng often gets out of the office and onto the field. "We are always with the players, the balls, and the bats during batting practice,"Ng says. "We watch every single game the Yankees play, and we form our own opinions about the players' styles and skills." That doesn't mean telling players how to play: "We talk to the coaching staff about that. We talk to the players about other things-usually social or business matters."

Ng's recent move makes her the first female executive inside the Yankees and the second woman to serve as assistant general manager in the major leagues. But, she says,"I take the gender issue out of the equation entirely. There is not a best male or female way to do my job. The best is simply the best and that's what I aim for." Nor does she give career advice in gender-related terms: "You have to decide what you want and work hard to get it. This advice goes for everyone. If you're looking to work in the major leagues, you're usually going to have to start out in the minor leagues and make very little."

Ng's own experience attests to the fact that a love for one's profession goes a long way. "You have to love the game to be able to translate the enthusiasm for the game into working hard and long hours," she says. "And I just love the game."-E.C.

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